Major California Gas Line Ruptures During Test

October 26, 2011

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. officials said Monday that a major gas transmission line serving the San Francisco Bay Area ruptured during a pressure test, blowing a crater in an alfalfa field in Kern County.

The pipe failure south of Bakersfield came as the company was planning to boost gas levels to meet winter demand, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The line is on one of two parallel transmission pipes that run to a major PG&E terminal and provides much of the Bay Area’s natural gas.

No injuries were reported in the blast, and the size of the crater was not immediately known, PG&E officials said.

The testing was part of the utility’s effort to assure that its gas system is safe in the wake of last year’s pipeline explosion in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno that killed eight people, injured dozens and destroyed 38 homes on Sept. 9, 2010.

The pipe failed because of a tear in a longitudinal seam. It was the same type of failure that caused the San Bruno explosion, PG&E officials said.

PG&E officials say it’s too early to tell whether gas supplies will suffer this winter as a result of the failure. They do not have a timetable for repairs.

The utility previously said it would run pressure tests on 152 miles of transmission gas lines by the end of this year and on hundreds of additional miles over the next few years.

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